Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars The best vampire gamebook, 17 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Vault of the Vampire (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks) (Paperback)
'Vault of the Vampire' takes a basic concept but does it to perfection. It is quite surprising that an adventure where you infiltrate a Gothic castle to slay a Dracula style vampire hadn't been done before this in the Fighting Fantasy series (although it had been the focus of other gamebooks, most notably 'Crypt of the Vampire' from the Golden Dragon range). The plot line itself may seem to lack originality but Keith Martin's quality of writing, his masterful characterisation and highly detailed and believable environments negate any adverse effects of adopting such a standard idea.

The castle is so well described and envisioned, with subtle details, that it feels utterly believable. When asked to make the predictable choices of going left or right down corridors the choice doesn't feel random as the reader gets a sense of where in the castle each route will roughly lead. The castle is fully immersive and atmospheric. Even though this has similarities with 'House of Hell' this book somehow has its own uniqueness. Mainly this is because you enter the castle as a fully-fledged and equipped warrior rather than a victim.

Although there are a variety of powerful opponents, ranging from those you would expect in a vampire's castle to the more elaborately inventive, you will not be able to complete this adventure relying solely on brute force or weapon skill. The author has filled his environment with riddles, traps and secret ciphers that will force the reader to exercise their brain. None of his puzzles are merely simple or luck based and you will need logic to overcome them. The balance between puzzles and combat is exactly right.

The characters are also well created. Heydrich is, admittedly, very much of the traditional Dracula ilk, but characters such as Katarina are genuinely scary even when not being overtly threatening. Even such minor roles as Valderesse are given such depth that they appear realistic and believable.

This is one of the best written gamebooks of any series, it's passages equal to a novel. It is a fully engaging adventure that the reader will want to revisit. This is also one of the rare FF books to produce a sequel ('Revenge of the Vampire'). It is a mystery that this has never been republished in the 21st century.
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